Rome Day 4 - Where all the Crazy Collided

February 6, 2012

I'm not gonna lie. This is going to be a hard one. I'm not entirely sure how to go over this day in blog-form. No, there wasn't a police or hospital visit, but the day isn't over. Ether one of these things could still happen. Right now, I'm writing this as we're chugging through the Roman Countryside. For a while, we weren't sure if we would get out of Naples tonight. Sigh...strap in for the ride...

We knew from the beginning that this would be the hardest day of our trip. We wanted to take the earliest train from Rome to Naples, because we wanted to be at Pompeii as early as possible. The train left at 637a. The Metro opened at 530a. And our alarms were set to go off at 415a. A really early morning. It didn't help that my sleep was completely opposite from what it was the night before. I might have had a few hours of sleep. Then again, I might not have slept at all. This should have been the sign of the day that was meant to be.

We actually started off well. We hit our desired times. The Metro was open. We figured out the ticket situation for the train. It took a bit of time to find our seats, but still...we were in our groove. But Adele was not at 100%. She's allergic to something in our room. Yesterday, she was fine almost immediately after we left the room. Today, she wasn't. We realized rather quickly that the issue wasn't allergies. She had caught a massive cold.

Ugh.

I get it. Having a cold on a trip. I totally understand. My memories of Moscow are tinged with my significant cold I caught on Day 2 of our trip. My first reaction when we realized she had caught a cold was, "Ohhhh...little camper...". I was actually prepared for this occasion. I bring DayQuil to every foreign trip, cause I know what it feels like to be sick and have no idea what to get at the Pharmacy. But the DayQuil was back at the hotel. Dammit. Adele also has crazy allergies to medications, so I am a little wary of giving her things. She's also a little wary of taking things. So we knew the massive cold was happening and happening now.

And why the hell wouldn't she catch a cold?? This weather is...awful. It's just so cold. I spent most of today comparing parts of this day to other trips we've taken. Today's cold...Inauguration cold. This cold is the kind that you know you won't get warm again until you're in bed. No matter where you are and what you do, you aren't going to get warm. Plus, this region isn't used to the cold, so they don't have much heat happening. That is our ultimate problem. We never got warm today.

Our train to Naples was 2 hours long. Then we had to find the next train to Pompeii. It's a little like taking the Amtrak from Indianapolis to Chicago, then going from Chicago to Naperville. So 30 more minutes and we were at Pompeii. So cool.

We made our way to the entrance and missed the place where we could grab the maps. That caused a few problems when walking around, cause we really didn't know where we were going. I really wanted to find the area that had the casts of people in the positions in which they'd died (Spoiler Alert - couldn't find it) and we figured if we just wandered, we'd see what we could.

Pompeii was like a combination of both Machu Picchu and Easter Island. It was like Machu Picchu, because it was such an ancient civilization that doesn't exist anymore. And it was like Easter Island because we felt like we were the only people here. Sure, we were one of the few morons traveling during the Winter months, so that could be part of it. But it was so serene and amazing. I wasn't sure if it was because there weren't many visitors, but the quiet was appreciated. I like to think people were contemplating what happened. They were paying a quiet tribute to those who lost their lives on this day. How can anyone even comprehend how this all went down?? Sure, I saw the episode of Doctor Who when The Doctor and Donna visited Pompeii, but I don't really think that was what happened...

We focused on some little details. The chariot grooves in the streets. The view of Vesuvius from the doorways and windows. The remaining frescoes on the walls. It was a city. A city that was wiped off of the map on one fateful day. Kind of makes my concerns of a Zombie (or any other) Apocalypse seem kind of stupid.

There were many areas that were blocked off. A "guide" kept circling us and asking if we wanted to see frescoes. Now he spoke no English and I thought "seeing frescoes" could be code. He had a giant key ring and made the motion that he could open some of the blocked off areas. Honestly, I'm not going to go anywhere with an old man shaking a key ring. Not in Pompeii and not in Illinois. We lost him while walking down one of the streets. And that's when we found an unlocked door. Look to the left. No one. Look to the right. No one. Let's do this. We opened the door and did some off the map exploring. The marble floors. The frescoes. How did they do this back then?? Amazing.

At a certain point, we started slowing down. We didn't eat much/any breakfast (Adele did get her standing cappuccino experience). We'd been walking for quite a while. And Adele was losing her battle to keep the cold at bay. We decided to leave the site and find something to nosh on. There were a handful of stalls serving food. We had 20 minutes before the train left Pompeii. Adele could only sit on the stoop and we both were starving. How is is that a €5 sandwich at a monument stall was one of the best sandwiches ever?? They were. And they were nice to have on the train back to Naples. This is important, because public transportation began to fail in amazing ways at this point.

Midway between Pompeii and Naples, our train was stopped at one of the stops. The doors opened. They shut. They opened again. They shut. They opened and stayed open. We sat with the doors open for a while. After about 10 minutes or so, the workers realized the train wasn't going anywhere. So we were all told to get off the train. In Italian. We assume. Look, we couldn't tell what the hell was happening, so we followed the crowd (as everyone got off the train). The crowd went to the other side of the platform and waited. Adele and I talked about our options. Bus?? Taxi?? Wait?? When we were on the other platform, we heard an announcement. A few words were understood: Napoli, Uno. Basically, we figured out a train would be arriving shortly on our platform to take us to the train. Excellent!! Sure, that one had a few issues too, but we made it back to the Naples station.

We found the ticket kiosks and started the process for getting tickets. Adele was exhausted and feeling like utter crap, so she wasn't able to focus hard on what was happening. Plus, there was a homeless dude asking us for coins (and not leaving when we were firmly saying no and ignoring him completely). We couldn't get on the first train out, but we eventually got tickets for an hour or so later. We thought...

The next step was to find a Farmaceria. Adele fund something that should help the cold a bit. Our next stop was to find a place to stay warm. Because at this point, there was nowhere to go and we'd been cold since 530a. We hung out in the ticket office for TrenItalia. We saw loud yelling with hand gestures!! I don't know what happened, but as time went by, I had some ideas.

Adele was sitting on the floor of the ticket office trying desperately to hold it together. During this time, I see that not a one train has arrived or departed from this terminal since we've been here. Our train was supposed to leave in 15 minutes and it wasn't even on the departure page. In addition, there is a large amount of people gathered outside of the tracks. And they haven't moved in at least an hour. I'm keeping this info mostly to myself, because I wasn't sure how Adele was going to react. A lovely Canadian woman came up to us and asked, "Do you speak English??". We sure do!! She wondered if we knew what was going on with the trains. I sighed...now Adele knew something was wrong. The woman had been waiting over an hour and she wasn't sure what was going on. She knew of some guy who looked into renting a car, but she wasn't sure what they were going to do. As she left, Adele went into high-gear to figure out what's going on.

We don't know what happened. Still. My assumption was that it was just too darn cold to run the trains. We walked into the National Rental Car place, but we didn't even ask the question. I wouldn't feel comfortable driving in a foreign land and I didn't think Adele could drive in her state, though she seemed to be getting better with the cold meds she found. We considered finding a bus, but then we'd have to go outside. At a certain point, we saw our train on the Departures Screen. And there was a 15 minute delay. Then a 20 minute one. Then 45. Then 50. We just kept track and waited. Suddenly, we got the alert. We had a track number!! And while we didn't sprint to the track, we did hustle in that direction.

We weren't seated together on the train. Ultimately, we could have been. But we didn't know until it was too late. The heat was turned on to 11 and I was feeling cozy. This might be the best part of the day at this point. My biggest hope is that this two hour break will be helpful for both of us. Especially Adele. Cause we're only four days into this trip. We haven't even hit our second city. There's a ton of stuff left to go. I know she'll feel better in a bit. It's just so hard. And my new worry...I don't want to catch that cold. I'm sure I will, but still...

Sure enough, the evening ended with some tea and a cheese plate at the hotel's bar. This was after the pizza at a small joint on the way back from the Metro stop. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't the worst day in the history of my world. Will we look back on this day and laugh?? Probably not. But still, we knocked Naples off of our list of cities we've been to. And we got to see Pompeii. To me, that's a win.

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